Friday, October 04, 2013

In with the Old: Bookplates

Before I started to write In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z, I compiled a list of "things"- fabrics, styles, motifs, objects- that I considered to be great examples of classic design and timeless style.  One of the criteria for making the list- the main criterion, in fact- was whether that decorative element was something that I would be proud to have in my own home.  And one decorative element that can be found throughout my home (specifically, in my library) is the bookplate.  In fact, I'm so crazy for bookplates that not only did we photograph one for my book, but we also incorporated an illustrated bookplate, which was drawn by my sister, inside the front of the book.  That way, you can add your name to the plate to mark your copy's ownership. (The photos seen above offer a few glimpses inside my book.) 

I own all kinds of bookplates, which I apply to all kinds of books.  My floral motif bookplates are used for books on flowers and gardening, while those that depict antique Chippendale chairs can be found in my furniture and decorative arts-related books.  (Both of these versions, by the way, are the fill-in types on which I must write my name.)  I also have custom bookplates, purchased on Etsy, which feature a pagoda with my name printed below.  Considering my fondness for all things Chinoiserie, I choose to use these pagoda plates in some of my very favorite design books.

Of course, the ultimate luxury is to have custom engraved bookplates that have been printed by some fabulous stationer.  Perhaps one of these days, I will have those ultimate bookplates.  Until then, though, I will continue to mark my books with my current stash of plates, which give me joy every time I open my books.

P.S.- I would like to thank Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles for featuring my book in their October issue as well as Southern Living and Zoe Gowen for including my book in their The Top Design Books You Need Now feature.  Also, thanks to Margot Shaw, editor-in-chief of the fabulous flower magazine, for mentioning my book in an interview with StyleBlueprint.

Order In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

In gardening books like Peter Marston's Garden Room Style, I use these peony letterpress bookplates from Jonathan Wright and Company.

For my architecture books, including my copy of New Classicism by Elizabeth Dowling, I chose these Palladian Capital bookplates from Ars Antigua.  You can see my Ars Antigua Chippendale Chair bookplate in the photo at the top of this post.

And this is my Pagoda plate, which I purchased on Etsy.  Looks good against that pink background, don't you think?

Photo at top from In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to Z by Jennifer Boles, Erica George Dines photographer.


  1. Jennifer, it is brilliant to have the bookplate printed with your new book. That is a guarantee that it is a good match, also.

    1. Thank you John! That means a lot coming from you!

  2. Love that you incorporated this into the design of your book -fabulous! I've never been religious about bookplates but when I've had them around I've pasted them into my new books -so useful when you lend them out! My grandma always put address labels in her books and it's so nice to have those now and see her name (and old address!) whenever I pull them off the shelf.

    1. Stefan, Many of my vintage books have the previous owners' address labels in them. A very practical solution to marking one's books!

  3. bookplates are splendid so we can see who we can return book to + put our name in the book so it can be returned.

  4. Crazy about bookplates, and yours are superb!
    One of my most cherished books is the 1937 edition of Noel Coward's autobiography Present Indicative.
    The bookplate, made for the Book Society, was designed by Rex Whistler and, better yet, autographed by
    Noel himself. A sort of double whammy in terms of icons/idols. Nearly swooned when I discovered it at a second
    hand book shop.

  5. I love this post and I love bookplates particularly those by Alexa Pulitzer--
    which I buy from Nadine Blake's great little shop in New Orleans.

  6. Seems we are all in love with your bookplates. Can you share your source with us?
    Here is a question related to "In With the Old".... While we all love the history, authenticity, patina & style of the old, I don't always love the "odor" of old! What do you do to freshen furniture and books so they smell as beautiful as they look?

  7. Dearest Jennifer,

    I enjoyed this almost Proustian, romantic post on a somewhat esoteric topic. It reminded me of the beautiful dark brown plates I used to have, featuring a lions head- I really like the Etsy ones you show here. It's impressive to me that there are still (Southern) ladies and gentlemen who care about such things, like polishing silver- answer to Kathy (above) - if I have kept the dust jackets on books, then I use a soft cloth with a small amount of lemon pledge- which will also work for books sans jackets. For some reason, Stan Topol taught his students, one of which I was privileged to be, to remove all dust jackets before shelving books. They do look more "mellow" that way. I also like to use a potpourri from Agraria, called "Bitter Orange" - from San Francisco! Reggie Darling posted about this classic on his blog, and I have posted about the other big classic room freshener, Rigaud "Cypres" scented candles. Cheers! Congrats again on your book, I hope it's the first of many!

    Dean Farris